Relative Time and Space

TARDISI suspect I live in the TARDIS.  Sometimes I’ll be home and working (or whatever) and lose all sense of time and relative dimension in space. Well, in time anyway. One minute it’s the middle of July, the next its…. Wait. It’s July now, right? RIGHT?

There were fireworks the other night, so it must be July. Or maybe it’s November and I’ve teleported to Britain for Guy Fawkes day.

You know it’s bad when you have to put “Get out of house one hour a day” on your to do list. Or your MOM says things like, “Don’t you want to go out and get some… well, anything?” So I’m trying to go out someplace where there are other people, even if all I do is sit at my table in a cafe and doing the same thing I would be doing at home–drinking too much coffee and pounding inspired drivel onto the keyboard. Or making Pinterest boards for my latest project. That’s work, right?

I’ve actually got a few outings coming up.

This Saturday (June 12, 10am-12pm; click here for details)  I’m teaching at the Yellow Rose RWA chapter in Colleyville. I’m teaching my “Pitch” class in person–the one that I teach online, but with more hand gestures and those weird expressions I make when I talk.

On August 9th at 3pm (click here for details) I’ll be at an author event/booksigning with Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre at the Firewheel Barnes and Noble in Garland, Texas. Rachel, Ann, and I will be doing a question and answer thing before signing, so it’s a great time to come and have fun with us.

Saturday August 16 from 1 – 4pm I’ll be at the Author Roundup at the Fort Worth Public Library (Central Branch). Here’s what the website says: Celebrate local, published authors of books for children and teens. Attend a panel discussion that will teach you to read critically and write confidently. Book signing to follow; authors’ books for sale at program. (All ages)

And the big one runs for 6 weeks. Go to the previous entry to find out more about the DFW Teen Writer’s Workshop, a writing workshop for, um, teens.

That’s what’s up. That and writing and stuff. Yay!

2014 DFW Teen Writers’ Workshop

Rosemary Clement-Moore:

Teen writers in the DFW area. Starts soon! Totally free! Great teachers. Whoo!

Originally posted on DFW Writers Workshop:

DFW Writers’ Workshop is very proud to announce the schedule for the 2014 Teen Writer’s Summer Workshop!  The best part of this announcement is….the workshop is completely FREE.

The scheduled events will take place at The Egg & I on Hwy. 26, from 12:30 to 2:30. Below are the dates and the list of speakers, who are all DFWWW members and traditionally published authors.  The sessions will include instruction and critique time.

t-shirt-2

Adult sizes small, medium, large and extra large are $10 each. XXL and XXXL are $12 each

With registration, teens will get a binder full of helpful advice. At the end of the workshop, an anthology will be created with their work. It will include a short story, excerpt, or poem that is polished during the six-week session. Each student will get a printed copy and may purchase as many additional copies as they’d like.  AND there’s…

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Otters, Chester Zoo, and my dog goes wild.

So I guess baby otters are a thing now, judging by my Twitter/tumblr feeds, though I have loved otters since way before they were Cool On The Internet. *pushes cute-nerdy-girl glasses on nose*  When I lived in Corpus Christi, I was a member of the Texas State Aquarium so I could go hang out and watch the otters whenever I wanted.

That’s not important. What is important is that you watch this video:

Oh. My. God. When I played this, Penny Dog went absolutely bonkers trying to find where that noise was coming from. So of course I had to move the laptop to another spot and play it again. And maybe a third time.

Anyway. This was filmed at the Chester Zoo in England. I do love a good zoo that takes the best care of the animals that they can. Obviously animals belong in their natural habitat, but when that habitat is disappearing, what are we going to do? What I like about the Chester Zoo is that they don’t limit their species preservation efforts to breeding programs. The zoo created the Act for Wildlife campaign, which works to preserve and restore natural habits all over the world. Even cooler, 100% of a donation goes to conservation efforts and none to administration. You can read about or donate to a specific species effort, or you can follow their blog to see how their projects are going.

A post about women science fiction writers… eventually.

Mary Shelley, arguably the first Science Fiction Writer. (This is relevant to this post.)

Mary Shelley, arguably the first Science Fiction Writer. (This is relevant to this post.)

I love when the premium channels like HBO and Showtime run free preview weekends, because it reassures me that I’m not missing much not subscribing to them. Even if it does mean I have to wait until the DVDs come out to catch up on Game of Thrones. Or read the series of books full of spoilers that bearded guy is writing. Whatever—

Cue record scratch thought derailment sound effect. That (above) was the start of  a Movie Monday post, because my mother has started reading blogs, which is a blog post in itself, and she has been nagging encouraging me to blog more often. It goes like this: “That other blog has a theme for every day of the week. Why don’t you do that? You’re so smart and funny, you should write that in your blog. You would have a lot more followers if you posted more often. This guy has way more followers than you, and he’s a monk.” (I am not even making that up.)

So I sit down to write a Movie Monday post. I’ll write about Ender’s Game, which I watched during the HBO free preview this weekend. Only I went looking for that faux article about George RR Martin writing spoilers for the GOT TV show, and then I found the picture below.

DirewolfandUnicorn

Photo taken (and tweeted) by the amazing artist/photographer Sarah Allegra (@sallegra). It is only tangentially related to this post.

Here follows my exact thought process from that moment until this:

1. Aw, that’s cute! GRRM has a little stuffed dire wolf.  Oh hey, that other guy has a little stuffed unicorn. Oh HEY, that’s Peter S. Beagle author of The Last Unicorn which is an amazing book (and an animated movie, so I guess this is still Movie Monday.) OMG The animals from their books are totally kissing noses! That’s so adorable!

2. Why is that funny? Two venerable old guys being dorks with toys from their books. That sort of makes them cooler. Authors! They’re just like us! Then I’m like, oh yeah, Ender’s Game.

3. Ender’s Game is kind of a venerable book itself, a military science fiction novel that explores the psychology of war and society, pretty much just like Starship Troopers (the novel) did, which also had giant bug-like aliens. I wonder why that is? Is it because the insectoid shape makes them seem true alien and icky, where a more mammalian thing might look like you could have it for a pet?

4. But Starship Troopers (the movie) was more action-y. It also had a lot more decapitations and impalements and also some brain sucking, if you like that sort of thing. Much more than the book.

5. This whole blog has become about venerable white guys who write science fiction and fantasy.  That’s just not right. I need to talk about some women science fiction writers.

6. Which women science fiction writers should I recommend? There’s Anne McCaffrey and Madeline L’Engle of course. Ursula L’Guin and Connie Willis. Would my blog readers be interested in them? I should go look up who are recent women science fiction writers (other than Suzanne Collins).

Literally the first line of A Wrinkle in Time. (This is the book that made me want to write books.)

Literally the first line of A Wrinkle in Time. (This is the book that made me want to write books.)

7. This first Google hit is a list of science fiction FOR girls, which is not the same thing, especially since half these books are by men.

8. THIS list starts with The Handmaiden’s Tale?  Ugh.  Well, there’s Willis and L’Guin. Oh yeah! Octavia Butler. A woman AND an African American. Yes, there’s Andre Norton, C.J. Cherryh, Lois McMaster Bujold. Also Elizabeth Moon. Well, there’s Kristine Kathryn Rusch, those are a little less dusty, more space opera-y. Tanya Huff!  I love her books.

9. These are great books, but kind of… old fashioned. Well, not all of them. I should still recommend them. They’re awesome, and my readers aren’t intimidated by big books.

10. But, still, I should look at YA science fiction and find some contemporary things to talk about, too. Oh, here’s Kirkus’s list of the Best Teen SFF books of 2013. Excellent!

11. Wow, these sound really good. I should put this on my Goodreads list so I remember them.

12. And maybe read a sample chapter…

13: Or two.

14. THREE HOURS LATER, I still haven’t written anything about Ender’s Game.

15. And it’s not even Monday any more.

For Writers Who Want Readers

I am really good at four things:

  1. Writing.
  2. Teaching.
  3. Being humble.
  4. Teaching about writing.

I’ve wanted to teach more online classes for awhile now, but first I had to beta test and tinker, and eventually announcing the classes became like sending a novel out on submission. I had to, like the ads say, Just Do It.

Which leads me nicely to the subject of my inaugural class:

Make Your Book a Must Read:
The Foundations of creating a stand-out pitch for your project. 

 

Click that title to go straight to the class description page. The first class is soon.

Don’t worry, loyal readers! I’m not quitting my day job. I wouldn’t mention it on the blog except I figured you might be curious what I’ve been doing with my time besides eating ice cream for breakfast and taking pictures of my dog. (Skip down if you’re not interested.)

What it is:

The class is about coming up with a description of your book that will make people want to read it right away. A “pitch” generally means ‘pitching’ the idea to a literary agent or editor to see if he or she might be interested in your book. (When you send a letter (or email, these days) it’s called a query letter.)

Who should take it:

  • You have finished your first draft and you’re getting ready to start the revisions. It will make your revisions easier, I swear.
  • You have polished your manuscript to be as awesome as can be and you’re ready to start trying to sell it to a publisher.
  • You plan to independently publish your work and you want a description that will make reader click, “Buy Now.”

And one more:

  • You’ve started a book, or you’ve started a lot of them, and you can’t seem to find any traction. What makes a good pitch makes a good story. This class is about finding the strongest elements of your story–the pillars that hold it up–which will help you write finish your novel.

Besides, the introductory price is crazy economical for this kind of class, so it’s low risk/high yield. You don’t have to travel to a conference, you don’t have to download any software, and you can see me but I can’t see you, so you can take the class in your pajamas

So, writers, what are you waiting for? Click through here to go to web class page, which has all the information. You can also get there from the “For Writers” menu at the top right of the header.

Now, readers (and writers who are readers): I have been busy.  A lot of you have asked: am I working on a new book, is there going to be a sequel to The Splendor Falls/the Goodnight books, am I ever going to leave my house and do an event again…?  The answers are yes, don’t worry be happy, and pretty soon, actually.

I will be moderating a panel of spooky awesome authors at the Valley Ranch Public Library on June 19th at 7pm. (Valley Ranch is kind of sort of part of Irving, TX. Ish.)

Also, I’m working on a new book that is going to make you happy if you enjoyed The Splendor Falls. (It’s not a sequel, sorry, but it’s mysterious and romantic and full of atmosphere. Also, if you haven’t figured it out yet, I like to connect my books, even when they’re not sequels. It’s just not always obvious.)

Other than that… you know I’m superstitious about talking about works in progress, right? That’s the problem. Everything I’m working on is in progress!

 

What about you guys? Do you have projects in the works?  What are you working on right now?

 

A funny thing happened on the way to this post

So, I’m driving home from my grandmother’s house on Saturday, which is important only because in a city not exactly known for colorful characters, unless you count the Cowboys. I see flashing lights at an intersection ahead and think, oh, dear, there’s been an accident.

But no. On the corner of a business/industrial thoroughfare, a police officer is interviewing a youngish man. I figure, he got pulled over, only I see no car. Also, I see no pants.

No, really. WHY?

No, really. WHY?

Me, to Mom: Is it just me, or is that guy not wearing pants?

Mom: No, that definitely looks like underwear.

Me: How am I going to live without knowing what’s going on here?

I have to say that, as guys in underwear go, it could have been a lot worse. I’m no connoisseur of underwear, but they, I guess, on the nicer end. So to speak. They were opaque, for one thing, and if this had been a magazine ad versus… whatever was going on there, it would only have been weird because he was wearing street clothes from the waist up.

As it was, it looked liked he hadn’t finished dressing, or possibly he’d lost his pants in some Mother’s Day Brunch incident, possibly mimosa related. (Thanks, @sarataylorwoods for the mimosa contribution.)

Red lights are only so long, so I take in as many details as I can: There are a couple of boxes on the corner. There’s a second cop, a motorcycle cop, interviewing someone else about 30 feet away, a tall, thin man with long, thin white hair and beard who looks like he smokes two packs of cigarettes and day and runs a pawn shop or possibly one of those electronics stores with the bars on the windows and doors.

What is going on here? Did this guy just take No Pants Day to the street? Was he hawking something (something other than the obvious assumption) without a license?  Maybe Underwear Guy’s girlfriend threw him out, pantsless, and he was trying to buy something shiny to get back in her good graces? And when he went into The Diamond Exchange, Two-Pack-A-Day was like, Dude. And Underwear-Guy is like, I have a shirt, give me some service, and Two-Pack is like, No Trousers, No Trade, and Underwear is like, Take all the stuff my GF tossed out along with my well-toned tush! Whatever! Just give me something to win her back, and Two-Pack is all 911 on his cotton-clad ass.

Some stories write themselves.

Actually, that’s not true. Developing a piece from idea to draft to story is a lot like growing a rosebush. It has to be fed and shaped and nurtured, occasionally pruned to let the best blooms show, all while keeping it looking like that happened naturally.

But then, yeah. There are also the weird scene on a street corner moments that aren’t going to go anywhere by themselves. Not every idea has roots, and that’s okay. To overextend the metaphor, those are the kinds of things that you press and keep safe until you find the perfect place for it.

So if you ever read in one of my books were a pants less guy is trying to get his hands on a diamond from a pawn-store-looking-guy who calls the cops on him?  You’ll know where it came from.